The play Macbeth is plagued with murder, deceit, and desire for power. As Macbeth eliminates many of people who trusted him most, the question is raised whether or not Macbeth was at blame for his actions or was he merely controlled by the will of the three wicked sisters? In the argument made by the acclaimed critic Harold Bloom, Macbeth was controlled and used as nothing more than a puppet of the witches. In contrast, Macbeth, had listened to the advice and warnings of the three witches, but when the time comes for a decision to be made, Macbeth is in control of his actions.
The first example of Macbeth acting according to his own free will is seen in Act II, scene 2, when Macbeth goes through with the murder of Duncan. In Act I of the play the witches tell Macbeth that he will be king. Macbeth decided not to act because he believes the witches prophesy will come true. Right away this tells us that Macbeth has given thought to possibility of dangerous action, but holds off. The witches did not interfere in his ultimate decision to kill Duncan, such as presented in the soliloquies. When Macbeth says, “In this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?
Come let me clutch thee! ” (lines 33-34) it suggests that Macbeth wanted the throne from the start. This soliloquy reveals Macbeth’s planning of harm to come to Duncan, and although he may not have intended death, it was a result he chose to go along with. In the article by Harold Bloom, he brings up an interesting point that the reader can not help but be taken into the mind of Macbeth, “in a rapt aside, quite early in the play, Macbeth introduces us to the extraordinary nature of his imagination” (Bloom, 535).
It is an interesting point he makes about how Macbeth thinks of these murders and then acts upon them. After giving much thought of murder and the (short-term) benefits of becoming king, Macbeth becomes nervous after Malcolm is declared heir to the throne. He wishes for the witches prophesy to come true, but his own apprehension causes him to take action. While actually committing the crime, Macbeth is in a haze. After the first murder and power has been given to him, things become clearer to Macbeth and his decisions become more forceful and impulsive.
The second example of action with planning comes shortly after the death of Duncan, when Banqo becomes highly suspect of Macbeth and his intentions. Because of Banqo’s waver of loyalty, Macbeth hires two murderers to kill Banqo and his son. Unlike the other two murders the witches gave no warning that Banqo would be an interference; only that his crown was fruitful. When Macbeth talks to the murderers of Banqo, his mind is once again thrown into haze as he speaks, “Know Banqo was your enemy… o he is mine, and in such bloody distance; That every minute of his being thrusts; against my near’st of life; and though I could; with barefaced power sweep him from my sight; and bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, For certain friends that are both his and mine, whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall; who I myself struck down” (lines 113-122). Banqo was once Macbeth’s friend, and while killing Banqo may not have been the wisest course of action, it was all Macbeth could think of.
The witches had told Macbeth of Banqo’s fortune, and desire for all power consumed Macbeth to act so irrationally. The third example comes when Macbeth order’s Macduff’s family to be killed. At the beginning of Act IV, scene I, the witches are summoned by Macbeth and they present him with three apparitions. The first one says, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough” (lines 71-72). The second apparition continues, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth…
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn The pow’r or man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth” (lines 77-81). These words were meant to make Macbeth feel invincible and as though he could not be challenged. There is no reason in Macbeth’s next choice of action, which was to kill Macduff’s family. Harold Bloom brings light into this when he says, “Macbeth has the authority to speak for his play and his world, as for his self. In Macbeth’s time there is no hereafter, in any world” (Bloom, 541).
The quote supports the idea that Macbeth is making conscience choices, but he fears nothing. The witches only helped him make this realization, but Macbeth’s own want for power made him corrupt irrational. As the play progresses, Macbeth grows dependant on the witches advice and prophecies. Rather than arbitrarily running into them, Act I, he summons them and demands answers, Act IV. Every time they meet, Macbeth listens to their advice, and interpretations of what they say are entirely up to him. Ideas are planted, but all the choices, rational or irrational, were made by Macbeth.